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New House Record at Christie's for the Most Expensive Item Sold Online
An important and rare bronze wine vessel and cover, Fangyi late Shang dynasty, Anyang, 12th-11th Century BC. Price realized: US$3,330,500. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2010.
NEW YORK, NY.- In a sign that fine art collectors are growing ever more comfortable with bidding online, Christie’s International reports that the top lot in Thursday’s sale of The Sze Yuan Tang Archaic Bronzes from the Anthony Hardy Collection sold for $3.3 million to an online bidder, setting a new house record for the most expensive item sold online. The sale price smashed the previous Christie’s online sales of $1.27 million, set in April 2008 for a Stradavari violin purchased online using Christie’s LIVE™, the company’s proprietary online bidding platform.

The new record of $3.3 million was set by an American collector who competed against bidders in the saleroom and on the phone to win the rare Chinese bronze wine vessel Fangyi, from the late Shang dynasty. Widely published and extensively exhibited in museums worldwide, this striking, heavily decorated container and cover is believed to have been a prized ritual vessel at the time of its creation in 12th-11th century BC. Inscriptions on both the vessel and cover record the clan names of the artisans who made the vessel as well as the ancestors to whom the vessel is dedicated. The complete catalogue listing for the vessel may be viewed here.

In total, 22% of the lots sold in Thursday’s sale, which totaled over $20 million, were sold to or directly underbid by clients using the Christie's LIVE™ application. Since 2007, every category of fine art, antiques and collectibles sold in Christie's salerooms worldwide have been enabled for online bidding. The most popular collecting categories for online bidding at Christie’s include Watches, Fine and Rare Wines, and Interiors. Prior to today’s sale, three lots have sold online for over the US$1 million mark, including jewelry and Chinese works of art.

Michael O’Neal, Senior Vice President and Director of Digital Media at Christie’s, commented: “Today’s new house record is a sign that Christie’s clients are as comfortable bidding online as they are with bidding in person in our salerooms, on the phone, or by absentee ballot. We recognize that our clients are increasingly mobile and rely on the Internet and mobile devices to conduct business with us. We are pleased that Christie’s LIVE™ has become such a core component of our auction business since its launch in 2007, and we look forward to rolling out more mobile applications and online enhancements to our clients later this fall.”

Christie’s remains the only international auction house to offer real-time, online bidding in all of its sale categories worldwide. In 2009, $68.4 million (£43.5 million) was bid online including premium and Christie’s LIVE™ generated 49,343 accepted bids for the year. 30% of all bids and 14% of all winning bids came in through online channels and the number of winning bidders participating online increased by 40% over 2008. In July 2009, Christie’s became the first international auction house to launch a mobile application with the announcement of its free app for the iPhone and iTouch. Earlier this summer, Christie’s expanded its mobile application compatibility to include all mobile phones, regardless of platform or device.



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